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Objectives for a New Church Committee

Jan. 22, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—The formation of a Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government was among the successful demands made on Kevin McCarthy for his election as House Speaker. How will the tasks of this committee—described as a second Church Committee—differ from its mid-1970s predecessor?

The Church Committee, which employed, at its peak, more than 150 staffers, produced a six-volume report exceeding 2,000 pages in length. Volume 2 contains this summary:

“We have seen segments of our government, in their attitudes and action, adopt tactics unworthy of a democracy, and occasionally reminiscent of totalitarian regimes. We have seen a consistent pattern in which programs initiated with limited goals, such as preventing criminal violence or identifying foreign spies, were expanded to what witnesses characterized as ‘vacuum cleaners,’ sweeping in information about lawful activities of American citizens. The tendency of intelligence activities to expand beyond their initial scope is a theme which runs through every aspect of our investigative findings. Intelligence collection programs naturally generate ever-increasing demands for new data. And once intelligence has been collected, there are strong pressures to use it against the target.”

The Church Committee discovered that from World War II to the 1970s, the National Security Agency had almost unfettered access to all Western Union messages. The Committee exposed the actions of COINTELPRO, including the FBI’s despicable letter to Martin Luther King, Jr., suggesting he commit suicide. Other COINTELPRO tactics included anonymously telling employers about alleged political beliefs of employees in order to get them fired, sending fake anonymous letters to the spouses of targets to ruin their marriages, provoking IRS investigations of political targets, just to name a few.

Today, however, notes Revolver News, a Church Committee 2.0 would have to look beyond the government itself, to the interplay between media, think tanks and academia (reminiscent of Ray McGovern’s MICIMATT). For example, James Baker left his post as FBI general counsel to become deputy general counsel at Twitter. “Former” intelligence officials can simply sign a letter to block the spread of news, as in the case of the Hunter Biden laptop. The Integrity Initiative and Institute for Statecraft are used as unofficial, supposedly non-governmental psychological warfare units.

Revolver writes: “In other words a modern Church Committee that exclusively looks for examples of misconduct by actual U.S. agencies ... risks missing the bigger picture, and the full scope of how the modern system operates.”

Another substantial difference to the 1970s is that the left, by and large, supported the reforms prompted by the Church Committee, whereas most of today’s left are coming to favor government suppression of disapproved speech.

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